India 2016 – 2017

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(Al Jazeera) Kashmir News

Modi wants India to emerge as a leading global power: not a non-aligned power or a bridging power, but a power that can shape global outcomes

(The Skimm) Over the weekend, the head of a state-run hospital there was suspended after more than 60 children died under his watch in the last few days. It’s unclear why so many children died so suddenly. But the hospital allegedly had a shortage of key supplies, including liquid oxygen. The hospital chief says he asked the Indian gov for money to buy supplies but was ignored. Others say the deaths were connected to a mosquito-borne disease that’s common during India’s rainy season. The Indian gov is investigating what exactly went down.

India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformation
(McKinsey) The country could create sustainable economic conditions in five ways, such as promoting acceptable living standards, improving the urban infrastructure, and unlocking the potential of women.Liberalization has created new opportunities. The challenge for policy makers is to manage growth so that it creates the basis for sustainable economic performance. Although much work has been done, India’s transformation into a global economic force has yet to fully benefit all its citizens. There’s a massive unmet need for basic services, such as water and sanitation, energy, and health care, for example, while red tape makes it hard to do business. The government has begun to address many of these challenges, and the pace of change could accelerate in coming years as some initiatives gain scale. (McKinsey Global Institute August 2016)
Foreign relations: 2017 likely to be a good year for India
By Cleo Paskal
Kochi: 2016 planted the seeds for some fundamental changes around the globe—a Donald Trump Presidency, Brexit, demonetisation, migration waves in Europe, a Chinese military base in Djibouti, the retaking of Aleppo, the failed Turkish “coup”, and more.
2017 is the year we start to see what those seeds are likely to grow into. There will be touchstone events, like the French and German elections and the once every five years Chinese Communist Party Congress. They will hint at deeper trends. And the situation is so dynamic, major “unpredictable” events are also likely. So the question is, will 2017 be a good year for India? In terms of foreign relations, very likely yes. (31 December 2016)

13 July
India rejects China’s mediation offer on Kashmir
New Delhi says its position to address issues with Islamabad in a bilateral framework has not changed.
(Al Jazeera) India has rejected China’s offer to mediate and help resolve the Kashmir issue, insisting talks will only take place with Pakistan without the intervention of another nation.
China had said it was willing to play a “constructive role” in improving relations between India and Pakistan, especially after the increased hostility along the Line of Control, a de facto border that divides the disputed Kashmir valley between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
However, talking to reporters on Thursday, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs turned down China’s offer.
“We are ready to talk Kashmir with Pakistan, but no third-party mediation,” Gopal Baglay said.
“Our stand is absolutely clear. You are aware that the heart of the matter is cross-border terrorism emanating from a particular country that threatens peace and stability in the country, region, and the world.”

27 June
India’s PM Narendra Modi meets Donald Trump with his signature greeting — bear hugs
Leaders and celebrities should be prepared for Modi’s embrace by now, but they often aren’t — sometimes nearly getting knocked off balance
(National Post) “Modi believes that trust can only be built through personal rapport and friendship, which includes positive body language and physical closeness with his counterparts,” Chaulia said. “He may have been trying to maintain the bromance that he had with Obama.”
There also may have been an element of relief in Modi’s hugs of Trump, launched at the end of a two-day visit described as “cordial” by Indian aides.
“Some people were worried about the outcome … in view of an unpredictable Trump,” retired Indian diplomat Rajeev Dogra said. “But he has gone out of his way to reach out to India.
There were clear signs of division, though: There was no mention of climate change, an issue of extreme concern in India, where many of the country’s 1.3 billion people are poor and vulnerable to extreme heat, drought and storm surges.
Trump also said little about the Asia-Pacific, though Modi made clear India’s intent to increase co-operation in the region as a check against China’s rising power.
Vijay Prashad is no fan of either Modi or Trump
Modi and Trump: When the titans of hate politics meet
Narendra Modi’s meeting with Donald Trump was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
(Al Jazeera) During his meeting with Trump, Modi avoided explaining how his protectionist policies would accommodate balancing the trade deficit between the US and India. Trump, on the other hand, dodged the question on pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, which Modi so adamantly supports.
The two men – pickled in the politics of hate – got to know one another and nothing more.
There was a great deal of back-slapping, mutual praise and displays of machismo. There was a great deal of bragging and making big promises.

26 June
(Quartz) Trump meets Narendra Modi. This is the Indian prime minister’s first face-to-face meeting with Trump, and diplomatic expectations are low. Despite a recent Trump tweet calling Modi a “true friend,” they hold different views on trade, immigration, and the Paris climate agreement.
Modi-Trump summit must vow to shape a global terror free environment
By Chitrapu Uday Bhaskar
While intense speculation about the bi-lateral relationship has dominated the commentary/ analysis apropos the first Modi-Trump meeting on Monday (June 26 ), there is a wider domain that beckons, which will be the litmus for the perspicacity and global vision that the two leaders can bring to the table.
It is more coincidence than design that the first Modi-Trump meeting is taking place at the end of Ramzaan. And the blood-splattered run-up to Eid this year which includes the destruction of the al-Nuri mosque in Iraq and the daily terror attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan provide both the context and urgency to quarantine this malignancy.

22 June
This week’s Economist cover features India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who is often lauded for overseeing the world’s fastest-growing large economy. Yet if you look closer, Mr Modi’s record is marred by wrong turns, false starts and missed opportunities. And now the shine is coming off India’s growth

India’s prime minister is not as much of a reformer as he seems
But he is more of a nationalist firebrand
… Yes, Mr Modi has pandered to religious sentiment at times, most notably by appointing a rabble-rousing Hindu prelate as chief minister of India’s most-populous state, Uttar Pradesh. But he has also presided over an acceleration in economic growth, from 6.4% in 2013 to a high of 7.9% in 2015—which made India the fastest-growing big economy in the world. He has pushed through reforms that had stalled for years, including an overhaul of bankruptcy law and the adoption of a nationwide sales tax (GST) to replace a confusing array of local and national levies. Foreign investment has soared, albeit from a low base.
Alas, these appearances are deceiving (see article). The GST, although welcome, is unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic, greatly reducing its efficiency. The new bankruptcy law is a step in the right direction, but it will take much more to revive the financial system, which is dominated by state-owned banks weighed down by dud loans. The central government’s response to a host of pressing economic problems, from the difficulty of buying land to the reform of rigid labour laws, has been to pass them to the states. And at least one of the big reforms it has undertaken—the overnight cancellation of most of India’s banknotes in an effort to curb the black economy—was counterproductive, hamstringing legitimate businesses without doing much harm to illicit ones. No wonder the economy is starting to drag.

10 May
Neglect of national security: Modi needs to redress major deficiencies
C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies
(South Asia Monitor) The month of May this year has multiple relevance for India’s military and strategic security. It got off to an inauspicious start with the beheading of two Indian security personnel on May 1 and, predictably, the country is angry and anguished. The citizen is disappointed that such an event could have happened in the first instance (weren’t the ‘surgical strikes’ on militant camps in Pakistan last year supposed to stop such acts?) and expects a befitting response from the decisive Prime Minister Modi.
Kashmir valley is going through a phase of heightened domestic unrest including girl students pelting stones at security forces for the first time. The Army has indicated that it will embark upon stringent combing operations in the valley to weed out terrorists and their supporters.
May 11 marks the 19th anniversary of the nuclear tests by India in 1998 and at the time, in a letter to the US President Bill Clinton, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had identified China as the abiding anxiety to India’s strategic security and dwelt on the “distrust” index between the two Asian giants.
That distrust has increased visibly over the last year apropos issues such as terrorism and the global nuclear order – and most recently the Dalai Lama. Consequently in a politically significant move Beijing has put off its participation in the trilateral India-Russia-China foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled to be held in Delhi in April under Indian auspices. …
The default response of the Modi government in matters of national security has been to inhabit social media. Over the last few months, whenever there is a setback or security personnel killed, ministers invoke emotive nationalism and promise retribution on the perpetrators – whether from across the border or from the Maoist cadres. This is relayed on Twitter!
This is not adequate and what is required to set right the accreted national security deficit is hard work and resolve within the government that ought to be out of public glare. One has repeatedly drawn attention to the gaps in the implementation of the Kargil Committee related recommendations tabled in parliament in 2000 – that is 17 years ago – that go back to NDA I and the Vajpayee period of governance.
Modi has one year effectively ahead of him – before he hits the campaign trail again to become candidate NaMo – to review and redress major national security deficiencies. Appointing a full-time Defence Minister may be the much needed first step.

13 March
Narendra Modi’s party won a landslide victory in India’s most populous state.The Indian prime minister—and his reform mandate—received a major boost when final results released Saturday showed his Bharatiya Janata party won in Uttar Pradesh by an unexpectedly large margin. The win improves Modi’s chances of getting re-elected in 2019.

4 January
(Quartz) Narendra Modi’s demonetization policy dented Indian growth. A Wednesday report from the Nikkei India Services PMI showed a score of 46.8 (scores under 50 denote a contraction) in the country’s all-important services sector for the second month in a row. Analysts say that the currency shortage enforced by Modi’s administration will cause a slowdown in Asia’s third largest economy. Five state elections in the next two months will reveal what people think of the radical cash ban.

2 January
India’s bank note ban: how Modi botched the policy yet kept his political capital
(The Guardian) His plea for 50 days of grace has expired, yet the prime minister may survive thanks to his framing of demonetisation as a strike against corrupt elites
One close observer, Sharat Padhin, a veteran political journalist based in the state, suggests Modi might be vindicated. “In this state demonetisation has created a divide between the rich and poor,” he says.
“The poorer classes seem to be getting some kind of vicarious pleasure from thinking: ‘I’m facing difficulties by standing in a queue, but the rich people who acquired wealth by dubious means, all their black money is gone’.”
Whether these same people feel the pain was worth it, once money starts flowing again, will decide the fate of India’s seemingly indomitable prime minister.

2016

30 December
Indians get rid of their last rupees. They have until the end of the day to deposit discontinued 500 and 1,000 rupee notes at banks. The decision in November to withdraw the notes—86% of the cash in circulation—to combat the shadow economy has caused chaos, hardship, and assorted unexpected consequences. Indians living abroad have until March 31 to exchange the notes
28 November
(Quartz) A “day of rage” in India. That’s what opposition parties are calling the nationwide protests Monday against prime minister Narendra Modi’s controversial move to ban 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, wiping out 86% of the country’s cash in circulation overnight.
Timeline: 20 days of demonetisation, Narendra Modi’s biggest gamble with the Indian economy
Quartz looks at the various flip-flops the Modi government has made vis a vis demonetisation.
the exercise is expected to slam the brakes on India’s GDP in the coming months. On Nov. 23, Goldman Sachs revised its forecast for India’s economic growth for this fiscal to 6.8% from the earlier estimate of 7.6%. While Modi’s gamble has been lauded by some economists, others have criticised its shoddy execution.
… Nov. 24: The old notes can now only be deposited in bank accounts and not exchanged. The government had earlier said that old notes worth up to Rs4,000 could be exchanged at banks and RBI counters till Dec. 30. However, now only foreigners are allowed to exchange notes up to Rs5,000 per week.
In parliament, former prime minister Manmohan Singh calls demonetisation “organised loot” and “legalised plunder.”

27 November
Cleo Paskal: Oceania is changing fast and India will be affected
(Sunday Guardian) last week, the University of French Polynesia convened a high level conference called “Coveted Oceania”. France has vast ocean territories in the Pacific, based primarily on its two possessions, New Caledonia and French Polynesia. In the last year, the French profile in the area has grown rapidly. In April, in a deal worth close to $40 billion, France won the contract to build 12 submarines for Australia (New Caledonia and Australia share a maritime border). And just a few months ago, New Caledonia and French Polynesia joined the Pacific Island Forum. On the sidelines of the “Coveted” conference there was active engagement with Australian academics with the goal of expanding collaborations. France is suddenly much more visible in Oceania.
Oceania is changing fast. And India will be affected. As the “Indo-Pacific” century rolls on, the strategic spheres of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean will increasingly overlap. The election of Donald Trump is only likely to increase US ties with India, and give India latitude for its “act East” policy. Narendra Modi and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, not only get along with each other, they also seem to be among Trump’s favourite foreign leaders. And all three are cautious about China.
In an Oceania context, it’s not clear if the “diamond” (Japan, India, US, Australia) will solidify or if it will become more of a triangle (Japan, US, India), or perhaps even expand in some areas into a pentagon (Japan, India, US, Australia, France).
Whatever happens, there is no question India will become more involved in Oceania. There are plans for an Indian space research station in Fiji, growing economic ties with Vanuatu, and a whole slate of bilateral proposals crafted since Prime Minister Modi visited Fiji in 2014.

16 November
(Reuters) It took the personal involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin to push though Rosneft’s $13 billion acquisition of Indian refiner Essar. Two months ago, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned firm Aramco looked liked the sure winner. The maneuvers behind the deal have repercussions not only in the global oil market, but also in global politics.
The tussle for Essar – a state-of-the-art plant in the world’s fastest-growing fuel market – illustrates the growing battle for oil markets between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world’s two largest crude exporters.
It also sheds light on the challenges OPEC member Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia – which are also fighting a proxy conflict in Syria’s civil war – will face in trying to clinch a global agreement to limit output growth to prop up oil prices.
20 October
The Indian women refusing to wear veils (video)
A group of women in the northern Indian state of Haryana are campaigning to stop wearing the veil.
The “ghungat” covers the whole face and has traditionally been worn as a sign of respect for men.
11 October
Shashi Tharoor: India Stops Turning the Other Cheek
(Project Syndicate) For two and a half decades, Pakistan has pursued a policy of inflicting on India “death by a thousand cuts” – bleeding the country through repeated terrorist attacks, rather than attempting an open military confrontation which it cannot win against India’s superior conventional forces. The logic is that India’s response to this tactic would always be tempered by its desire not to derail its ambitious economic development plans, as well as the Indian government’s unwillingness to face the risk of a nuclear war.
But this predictable and repetitive pattern of India-Pakistan relations was suddenly disrupted on September 29, when India’s Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh, announced that Indian commandos had conducted “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, the de facto international border between the two countries. The DGMO stated that the strikes, in the early hours of that morning, had destroyed terrorist “launch pads” and eliminated significant numbers of militants poised to cross over for attacks on the Indian side, as well as some who were protecting them (presumably a reference to Pakistani soldiers). …
Pakistani attempts to seek support against India were widely rebuffed, with Pakistan’s usual supporters, China and the US, mildly calling for both sides to defuse the tensions. In the days following the strikes, fears of further military escalation have subsided.
India also tightened the diplomatic screws on its recalcitrant neighbor, persuading other members of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) to call off a planned summit in Islamabad as punishment for Pakistan’s bad behavior. India’s government also announced that it was undertaking a review of the Indus Waters Treaty, under which India has conceded to Pakistan, on generous terms, the waters of the Indus River, which originates in India, not even using the share to which it is entitled.
3 October
(Quartz) Another Indian army post was attacked. It was the second assault in two weeks on a base in the disputed Kashmir region. The Indian army didn’t identify the attackers. One border guard was killed and another wounded. India had launched “surgical strikes” a few days earlier against militants on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control.
30 September
The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry
(BBC) India is one of the largest producers of coal in the world and more than half of its commercial energy needs are met by coal.
But unregulated mining has caused serious health and environmental issues, and led to growing conflicts between elephants and humans.
In the coal-rich central state of Chhattisgarh, for example, fly ash has caused respiratory problems and serious illnesses like tuberculosis among people, but their troubles don’t end there.
Forests are being cleared for coal mining and wild elephants are entering villages in search of food and attacking people.
29 September
India’s “surgical strikes” aren’t a brave new idea, and they won’t stop Pakistan from backing terrorism
(Quartz India) If there was any doubt about India’s incapability to formulate a credible response to Pakistan’s provocations, and move towards a political settlement of bilateral disputes, this “surgical strike” and the way it has been presented at home (and abroad) puts an end to that debate.
18 September
India’s 007, Former Super Spy, Is Shaping Modi’s Foreign Policy
(Bloomberg) He spent seven years undercover in Pakistan, recruited rebels as informants in disputed Kashmir, and once disguised himself as a rickshaw driver to infiltrate a militant group inside India’s holiest Sikh temple. Now some consider Ajit Doval the most powerful person in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi picked Doval as his National Security Advisor, a position that holds more sway than the ministers of defense and foreign affairs. It puts Doval in charge of talks with arch-rival Pakistan. He visits arms manufacturers to discuss strategic capabilities, and orchestrates the response to militant attacks, liaising daily with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, the nation’s top diplomat.
Since Doval took the job, he has supported a nationalist agenda while adopting a tougher line against hostile neighbors. That has growing economic ramifications as China funds a $45 billion trade corridor through Pakistan that bypasses India and as both China and India eye resource-rich neighbors in central Asia like Afghanistan.
Uri attack: Pressure on Modi govt to act decisively ‘now’ is visible, but must be well thought through
Written by C. Uday Bhaskar
Pak wages its proxy war with impunity. India should avoid falling into the trap of impulsive indignation
(The Indian Express) The audacious terror attack on a brigade headquarters in Uri in the early hours of Sunday, September 18, that resulted in the death of 17 Indian soldiers and injured over 20 troops is a very serious operational lapse. That four armed terrorists could kill so many soldiers in a fortified army camp is an illustration of the asymmetrical advantage that has progressively accrued to the adversary.
The loss of uniformed personnel in this manner against a determined and opaque adversary in the proximity of the LoC (Line of Control) draws attention to two interlinked issues: The complexity of the proxy war that Indian security forces have been dealing with in Jammu and Kashmir for 26 years and the chinks that the enemy is able to periodically exploit with impunity. …
In today’s politico-military environment, while ensuring an operational military advantage is imperative, winning the “story” is equally if not more important — especially in LIC and proxy war exigencies. Here, India has a chequered track record in relation to how it has dealt with the Kashmir issue over the years — and the political management of the Burhan Wani-related violence and turmoil in the Valley have not helped matters.
Post Uri, and the righteous national anger that is palpable, India will need to avoid the temptation of falling into the trap of impulsive indignation whenever Pakistan plays the terror card. The pressure on the Modi government to act decisively “now” is visible but this should be tempered by objective cost-benefit operational analysis.
13 September
(Quartz) India imposes a curfew on Kashmir during Eid. For the first time since unrest broke out in 1990, India is imposing a curfew during the Muslim festival in an effort to quell violence in the disputed territory. Drones and helicopters will conduct air surveillance, and internet and cellphone service will be suspended.
11 August
Why India needs a Daughters’ Day
(BBC) India has launched a campaign on social media to celebrate daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters this week and is observing a Daughter’s Day on Thursday.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi told the BBC that the Daughters’ Day and the Daughters’ Week were aimed at reducing female foeticide, improving India’s skewed sex ratio and educating girls.
A preference for sons has led to hundreds of thousands of female foetuses being aborted every year, at least 22 women are killed for dowry every day, a rape is reported every 22 minutes and every five minutes a woman is assaulted within her home.
20 July
Dozens killed as tensions flare between nuclear neighbors
(CBS News) Almost 45 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in 11 days of clashes between civilian protesters and Indian security forces in Kashmir.
Protesters in several districts of the Kashmir valley have defied a government curfew to throw stones at police and paramilitary forces. In response, the forces have used bullets, pellet guns and tear gas, leading to most of the deaths and injuries.
The police have come under heavy criticism from rights groups for the use of pellet guns to control the crowds. Children as young as five are among the 600 people left who’ve been left with pellet-scarred faces.
19 July
Facebook under fire for ‘censoring’ Kashmir-related posts and accounts
Photos, videos and accounts deleted after killing of militant by Indian army
‘Why is it that only Muslims get blocked?’ asks user after account blocked
(The Guardian) Burhan Wani, a senior member of the Hizbul Mujahideen rebel group was killed by the Indian army on 8 July. About 30 people died in the violent protests that spread across Kashmir in the aftermath of the killing, and an indefinite curfew has been introduced by the Indian government. Wani was considered a terrorist by the Indian authorities, but a freedom fighter by many Kashmiris and Pakistanis.
Kashmiris decry world’s silence over killings
Activists lament lack of condemnation from India and international powers for violence that killed at least 30 people.
9 June
With one eye on China, Modi’s India strikes up a firm friendship with the US, but will it endure?
Harsh V. Pant says the challenge for the Indian prime minister, who was on a visit to America this week, is to ensure bilateral cooperation has broad domestic support
(South China Morning Post) Even as Modi reinforces his credentials as the politician best placed to move forward not only Indian economic reforms but also Indo-US ties, he must address concerns about India’s record on religious tolerance as well as economic issues such as the protection of intellectual property and high tariffs.
23 May
India and Iran sign ‘historic’ Chabahar port deal
(BBC) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will build and operate a key Iranian port after his talks with President Hassan Rouhani.
India would invest $500m (£344m) to develop the strategically important Chabahar port, close to Iran’s border with Pakistan, he said.
The port would open a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia for Indian goods and products, avoiding the land route through Pakistan.
Delhi also wants to bring gas from Central Asia to the port and then transport it to India.
16 May
Poll: How Is Modi Sarkar Performing?
http://www.outlookindia.com/poll/story/how-is-modi-sarkar-performing/136
It is exactly two years since the Narendra Modi government was swept to power thanks to a powerful electoral wave. Opinion is sharply divided on the performance of the government. Mr Modi’s personal ratings seem to be intact. Many feel corruption has come down, and the Modi government has tried to improve governance. On the other hand, Indian institutions appear to be frailer, the minorities remain insecure, the media by and large subservient, and the noise around us is hateful. (Poll between May 16, 2016 – May 30, 2016)
13 May
New Delhi smog gettyimages-India’s Big Battle: Development Vs. Pollution
Indian cities are among the world’s most polluted. And India is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide. If it finds a sustainable way to develop, it could be a template for the rest of the world.
(NPR) With ambitious goals to improve the standard of living, and 400 million people already lacking reliable electricity, “This means we need to enhance the energy supply by four to five times what it is now,” says Ajay Mathur, a climate expert who runs the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi. He says no matter how fast India increases its clean energy, like solar and wind, the country will probably also double its use of coal between now and 2030.
Todd Stern, who served till last month as the top U.S. envoy on climate change, says India has a steeper hill to climb than anywhere else. “There is no country, probably, with a bigger challenge — looking at the number of people, the level of their economic growth, the number of people who don’t have access to electricity,” he says.
The impacts of climate change would hit people in India harder than almost anywhere else in the world, making it more vulnerable to flooding and drought. “Tropical cyclones are likely to become more intense. We’re also seeing that climate change is going to have an impact on the monsoon,” says Richard Hewston of the global risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft. …  New Delhi and Kolkata, with a combined population of more than 14 million, are on the top 10 list of global cities most vulnerable to natural hazards.
12 May
Air pollution rising at an ‘alarming rate’ in world’s cities
According to the new WHO database, levels of ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5s) are highest in India, which has 16 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities.
26 February
(World Post) Less than two years into Narendra Modi’s first term as Indian prime minister, an alarming brand of hyper-nationalism is rising. Ministers and right-wing followers of Modi’s Hindu nationalist ruling party are labeling a growing number of student protesters, intellectuals and activists as “anti-national” simply for criticizing the government. The message is that you’re either with India and Modi or you’re not — and if you’re not, you may be accused of being a terrorist or of wanting the disintegration of India. Over 3,200 people were reportedly being held in January alone on executive orders without charge or trial.
Modi’s government appears to be a part of a neo-nationalist trend as inequality rises and economic challenges mount in India, China, Russia, Turkey and beyond. …
India’s economy is expected to grow more than 7 percent this year, one of the fastest rates in the world, but it’s struggled to create jobs, leaving millions feeling left behind, including thousands who recently protested. And it seems that Modi feels politically vulnerable — recently, he accused unnamed colluders of “hatching conspiracies every day to finish and defame me.”
In response, many fear that his Bharatiya Janata Party may be trying to replace India’s liberal democracy with an authoritarian Southeast Asian-style democracy that allows little political dissent. BJP politicians have also been fueling religious tensions with provocative speeches and proposals that target non-Hindus, particularly Muslims. Having lost key state elections, the BJP may be calculating that the race-and-religion card is their best bet to hold on to power.
Writing from New Delhi, Shivam Vij makes the case that Modi is using Hindu nationalism to deflect from the “palpable sense that he is unable to deliver” on campaign promises. Jesudas Athyal writes that establishing an Indian “Hindu nation” has long been a dream of right-wing Hindu nationalists and that they are seizing this moment to try to achieve it. Adrija Bose of HuffPost India suggests that an article from 2000 — warning of a “creeping fascism” by a “disillusioned and dispirited” Hindu right — reverberates today. From New Delhi, Aman Sethi details how the recent suicide of a low-caste student led to sweeping protests demanding equality and free speech.
22 February
India caste unrest: Ten million without water in Delhi
(BBC) More than 10 million people in India’s capital, Delhi, are without water after protesters sabotaged a key canal which supplies much of the city.
The army has [taken] control of the Munak canal after Jat community protesters, angry at caste job quotas, seized it.
Keshav Chandra, head of Delhi’s water board, told the BBC it would take “three to four days” before normal supplies resumed to affected areas.
All Delhi’s schools have been closed because of the water crisis.
Sixteen people have been killed and hundreds hurt in three days of riots.
17 February
This is a watershed moment for India. It must choose freedom over intolerance
Priyamvada Gopal
The arrest of the student leader Kanhaiya Kumar – charged with ‘anti-nationalism’ – is the latest repressive act by the BJP in the name of ‘Hindu-ness’
(The Guardian) The standoff at New Delhi’s famous Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) that has transfixed India has nothing of the routine campus controversy about it. Following the arrest of a student leader, India’s Hindu nationalist BJP government now finds itself facing down a large coalition of progressive groups laying claim to the idea of an India where the right to dissent is foundational.
For those committed to the idea of India as essentially a Hindu country, which includes many in the government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, the list of potential “anti-nationals” appears to be compendious. It seems to include everyone from Muslim, Dalit, Christian, leftwing and liberal activists to those who question the Indian state’s actions in Kashmir or suggest that religious intolerance isn’t a good idea.
Until recently, this dispensation has had the benefit of an acquiescent, even cheerleading media, but that may be changing. Today, with journalists also facing down manhandling and violence from government supporters, even as some of their more rabid colleagues appear to be inciting it against JNU students, the situation reminds many of the horrors of the 1975-77 state of emergency. Now, as then, India is poised on the brink of a choice between the dangers of authoritarianism and its historic commitment to dissent. It is essential that the latter prevails.
2 January
Pathankot attack is ‘challenge’ for India: Defence Expert
New Delhi, Jan 02 (ANI): Defence Expert Uday Bhaskar on Saturday dubbed the attack on the Indian Air Force base in Punjab’s Pathankot as a ‘challenge to the nation’, saying that this year is likely to see more such attempts now that dialogues between India and Pakistan have improved. He said that the Pathankot attack is a challenge to India and the year 2016 is likely to see more such attempts and the context for this is that there has been an improvement as far as the bilateral India Pakistan dialogues are concerned. Bhaskar added that there are forces and constituencies that have tried to disrupt the bilateral relationship between both the nations.

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